Death toll rises to 15 in Pakistan explosions

Smoke billows from a fire at the site of a marketplace bomb in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Thursday.
The death toll climbed to 15 in the wake of a series of explosions that rocked northwest Pakistan on Thursday, officials announced Friday.

The attacks shook Peshawar, the capital of North West Frontier Province, where government forces have waged a massive operation against Taliban militants. The deadliest of the attacks occurred early Thursday evening. Timed explosive devices on two parked motorcycles detonated back-to-back, killing six people at two crowded adjacent bazaars, said Shafqat Malik, Peshawar bomb disposal squad chief. Two children were among the dead, and at least 75 people were wounded. After the bazaar attacks, several of the suspects fled to a rooftop, where they fought a gunbattle against police. Three suspected militants were killed, police said. The markets, Qissa Khawani and Kabari, are part of the larger Khyber Bazaar.

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Police recovered two suicide vests and said they thought the attackers might have caused the blasts to lure more people to the area before detonating additional explosives. Watch chaos, flames after Peshawar blast » Thick smoke engulfed the streets, and GEO-TV showed dazed people mingling and running amid burned-out vehicles and mounds of building debris. Firefighters doused flames, and other emergency workers scrambled to rescue people from rubble. In another bombing, four policeman and one civilian were killed on the outskirts of Peshawar, authorities said. Another suicide bombing occurred later in Dera Ismail Khan, the province’s southernmost city. Three police officers and a civilian were killed, authorities said. At least 12 were wounded. Peshawar and Dera Ismail Khan are more than 250 kilometers (155 miles) apart. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for any of the explosions. But earlier Thursday, the Taliban claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in Lahore the day before that killed at least 27 people. The militants vowed similar attacks in other cities. Wednesday’s attack was in eastern Pakistan. Watch more on the attack in Lahore »

Pakistani Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas told CNN on Thursday that more attacks were expected. Taliban Commander Hakimullah Mehsud said the attack in Lahore was payback for the ongoing military offensive in the northwest region, some of which has become a haven for Islamic militants.